MAY 9 - MAY 12 2023: NORTH TO ALASKA: MERRITT - PRINCE GEORGE – FORT ST JOHN – TOAD LAKE BC
We left Cashmere on May 9th heading by car through Washington into beautiful British Columbia. Our itinerary will take us through Yukon and NW Territories Canada to eventually make it to Wrangell, AK to return to our sailboat Sway and a summer of adventures.
The first leg of our trip took us north up Washington’s middle and we crossed the border at Oroville, WA. Border crossing took about 32 seconds. The area around Kelowna is spectacular and is studded with wineries, vineyards and lakes everywhere you look. The Kamloops area was gorgeous and the Thompson River was mighty. Lots of run off this time of year. We saw our first bear on the side of the road and we picked Merritt, BC to spend the night. We opted for a Mongolian Grill for dinner given the other choice was described as a ‘gritty pub in a gritty city’. I was a bit miffed when the young clerk opined that I should be careful about the ‘4 star hot’ sauce and said that he tells ‘seniors’ to be careful with the heat. Seniors. I guess the shoe fits but Canadian ‘wild’ is my ‘mild’.
Next leg of the trip took us about 560 KM to Prince George. The scenery is differing the further we go north and we marvel at the wide array of trees, creeks, natural gas plants and bald eagles. We picked a lovely brand-new hotel on Prince George but what a sketchy area. Our concierge mentioned a massive homeless problem and we witnessed the drug use right around the corner from the city’s new aquatic center that was brimming full of families. Enjoyed some great Indian food.
The 11th, I woke up to another birthday (hooray) and Cassie had decked out our room with birthday signs. We headed out deciding to take Hwy 97 due to a washout on 37. There are wildfires already but we should be fine. We drove from Prince George to Fort St John and saw even more evidence of the oil and gas industry all throughout the province. Miles of lovely scenery with a compression station every 50 km. Fort St John is a large-ish industrial city. We found a steak house for a birthday dinner and loved meeting our Indian server who shared photos of her recent wedding with 1,000 guests, five dresses and two weeks of festivities. Honored she shared her story and how this highly educated young woman ended up in Ft St John BC is something to ponder.
The 12th was a day of wildlife all the way up the Alaskan highway, starting with Coco’s favorite Ft St John dog park. Miles of groomed dog park! We headed up Hwy 97 and right away saw another black bear. Then another. Followed by a moose and then loads of Caribou. They mark the road often with warning signs to watch for animals, but boy were they out today. Fun to see them but also challenging to drive around them! Our lodging hereis a rustic lodge at the side of Reflection Lake in Toad River BC. Dinner is served in the ‘lodge’ until 7 so it is an early bite to eat overlooking the lake inhabited by two white swans.